Clinton’s an indexer, reveals 2015 tax return

By Katie Keir | August 16, 2016 | Last updated on December 6, 2023
2 min read

Late last week, Hillary Clinton released her 2015 tax return. It shows she and husband Bill Clinton earned US$10.2 million in business income, with US$5.5 million coming from speaking fees and US$3.1 million from book royalties, as reported by

When it comes to investments, the Clintons earned US$84,358 in ordinary dividends from the Vanguard 500 Index Fund in 2015–a departure from her 2013 and 2014 returns, where no such income was reported. In the same year, the couple’s total investment income was US$106,290, and they reported a US$3,000 capital loss (out of a total US$699,540 in long-term capital loss carryover).

Read: Taxes and ETFs: What you need to know

The return doesn’t specify who paid Hillary and Bill to speak last year. This detail was last disclosed in 2013, when Hillary received between US$225,000 and US$400,000 from about 40 companies and institutions, including Morgan Stanley, Deutsche Bank and Fidelity Investments. For his part, Bill received between US$100,000 and US$700,000 in speaking fees in 2013.

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But the 2015 return reveals that, overall, “The Clintons paid an effective federal income tax rate of 34.2% and an effective state and local income tax rate of 9%, for a combined federal, state, and local effective tax rate of 43.2%,” says Clinton’s campagin website. That rate compares to 45.8% in 2014 and 44.6% in 2013.

However, reports CNN, the couple’s real effective tax rate was 30.6%, based on their adjusted gross income. Senior writer Jeanne Sahadi of CNN writes, “The campaign reported the Clintons’ effective tax rate as 34%, which includes the more than US$300,000 the couple paid in self-employment taxes. [Those are] payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare. Experts often don’t include them when calculating federal income tax burdens.”

Still, she reports, “By any measure, Hillary Clinton and her husband have satisfied the Buffett Rule that she’d like to impose if elected. Under that rule, anyone with adjusted gross income over US$1 million would have to pay a minimum of 30% of their income in taxes.”

Donald Trump has said he’d release his return following an audit; his running mate, Indiana Governor Mike Pence, hasn’t stated whether his returns will be released.


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Katie Keir

Katie is special projects editor for and has worked with the team since 2010. In 2012, she was named Best New Journalist by the Canadian Business Media Awards. Reach her at